The Book of James Bible Study

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James 1

The writer of James - James 1:1

Purpose of Trials and Temptations - James 1:2-4

Asking for Wisdom - James 1:5-8

The Christian's Attitude in the Midst of Trials - James 1:9-11

The Crown of Life in the Midst of Trials - James 1:12

The Birth of Temptation - James 1:13-14

Disobedience and Death  - James 1:15

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The Christian's Bible - James 1:16-26

The Christian's Attitude in the Midst of Trials

Trials that believers encounter often cause a reassessment of life’s values. They frequently affect economic conditions and social standing. The poor can become poorer while the rich become richer, or vice versa. This fact of life is offered for some careful evaluation of what is really important. It is likely that most of James’ readers were poor. This would have been especially true during persecution, when material losses would be great. A literal reading of James 1:9-10 is:

Let a brother in humble circumstances glory in his exaltation; but a rich, in his humiliation;
because like the flower of the grass the rich man will pass away.

It appears “brother” and “let him glory” should be supplied in verse 10 so it reads: “but a rich brother let him glory in his humiliation.” However, because these two things must be supplied the identity of the rich person is debated as to whether he a believer or unbeliever. The rich are always dealt with severely in the rest of this letter (James 2:6; 5:1). Furthermore, it is argued that “pass away” and “fade away” are not appropriate of Christians. It is also noted that if he were viewed as a Christian, the “humiliation” stated of him would seem to contradict similar terminology used with the poor man. Nevertheless, the verse ten is more commonly interpreted of a wealthy Christian.

On the one hand, a wealthy Christian could find reason to glory in his Christian faith, even in persecution. To be the object of ridicule and scorn because had adopted Christian values would have been a humiliating experience for a rich man, perhaps even more so than for a poor person.

On the other hand, the attitude of both the poor and the rich brother is the result of spiritual wisdom which each has attained. The results look in opposite directions. As the boor brother forgets all his earthly poverty, so the rich brother forges all his earthly riches. By faith in Christ the two are equals. The rich brother has come to realize that at the cross he stands on a level with the poor brother. They have both been given a new status in Christ and it is their true ground for glorying.

James uses the wild flower that fades and passes away to illustrate the shortness and uncertainty of life. The rich man is transitory as the “flower of the grass.” This also is true for the poor man, but James presses it upon the conscience of the rich because, while living in the midst of plenty, he is more prone to forget it than the poor brother. He needs humility to realize that his earthly fortune is not the true basis for his security and significance. Permanence is not to be found in the material things of this world. If the rich man does not glory in his humiliation, he will pass away while he is still restlessly busy and not anticipating that his end is at hand.

Various field flowers bloom each spring in great abundance in Palestine. The prophet employed this illustration in Isaiah 40:6-8.

A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?" "All men are like grass, and all their
glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Consider the brevity of life that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30).

The wild flowers fade away and pass away rapidly when the spring rains cease and dry summer arrives in Palestine. If the rich man thinks of himself like a wild flower, it helps him look beyond temporal material things to real spiritual values. “For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant” might stand for adverse circumstances. Jesus uses “summer is near” (Matthew 24:32; Mark 13:28) to refer to the Tribulation Period.

If adverse circumstances is meant by scorching heat that withers the plant, than the fading away and passing away refers to the rich man’s faith, not his physical life. That is what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower, Soils and Seed.

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away (Mark 4:16-17).

For a Jew to become a Christian meant immediate persecution for him; it started with the loss of his family, his position in the community and his inheritance.

Satan places many varied barriers in the way of all who would be saved; and one is riches. Consider the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-31) and the rich man and the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The rich brother ought to take pride in his humiliation for few rich people enter into the kingdom of God.

When the rich person is saved, he is like every other Christian, who is called to a life of separation. If his heart is right with God, he discovers that in Christ he is no higher than the poorest of his brethren in Christ. Riches may be useful in this life, but physical death severs man and money! And spiritual death severs man from greater riches—abundant and eternal life in Christ.

Consider the Christian who poor by this world’s standards: The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. A Christian who is lacking in material things has undiminishing possessions in Jesus Christ. The saved can rejoice because their names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

A Christian may be of inferior degree financially, socially, or racially; but he need not be moved by his standing according to man’s standard. God’s standard does not go by one’s place, or face, or race in this life. Our memory verse for the 50-Day Spiritual Adventure, 1 Peter 2:9-12, is an excellent reason to take pride. Galatians 6:1-5 tells us of another way to take pride in our self. The Christian is rich beyond this world’s imagination (Ephesians 2:4-7).

No person comes to poor for the Lord Jesus to save. The Gospel invitation says, ”Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). It is not with silver and gold but with the precious blood of Christ that poorest and wealthiest sinner is saved (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Poverty can produce great riches according to 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Had Christ remained in heaven He could not have made needy sinners rich! The believer’s wealth can never be calculated in dollars! We possess the riches of His goodness (Romans 2:4), the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7) and the riches of his glory (Ephesians 3:16). Take pride!

Next Section - The Crown of Life in the Midst of Trials

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Decoding Daniel

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

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